• Alexander McShiras

The Trump administration wins another immigration battle

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 300,000 immigrants living in the United States will potentially face deportation at the beginning of 2021. This termination of temporary protected status (TPS) negatively impacts immigrants from Haiti, Sudan, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. This ruling does not impact immigrants who have TPS and are citizens of countries not listed above.

TPS holders are immigrants who have lived in the USA for many years, and many of whom are essential workers fighting the pandemic. TPS allows immigrants to apply for work permits and avoid deportation when their country of origin faces several crises such as armed conflict or natural disaster. These are situations in which citizens would find themselves extremely unsafe if they were forced to return to their home country. A lawsuit against the termination of TPS was filed by beneficiaries and their families of these four countries, stating that the ruling was based on animosity toward “non-white, non-European immigrants” as evidenced by comments made by President Trump and administration officials. The court ruled (in a 2-1 decision) that there was not enough evidence to prove that race was a factor when President Trump’s administration decided to cancel the program. Therefore, the Court ruled that Trump’s decision to end TPS for these four countries stands.

Immigration advocates from the National TPS Alliance spoke after the ruling to say that 400,000 families will be torn apart and people will be de-documented. TPS provides documentation to beneficiaries for up to 18 months, but the federal government extends benefit timeline due to finding that it is unsafe for these people to return to their country. Most TPS holders have been living in the United States for more than a decade using these extensions. The court ruling comes at a time when there is significant uncertainty as the globe faces the COVID-19 pandemic. TPS recipients make up more than 130,000 essential workers, and now they have to worry about facing possible deportation. Recipients from El Salvador have an advantage, they have one more year of legal protection because the administration extended their work permits last fall until January 4, 2021. El Salvador has the highest murder rate per capita in the entire world.

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